Last year the Hawaii Ironman World Championships was a farce.
The leader of the race was given a four minute penalty while leading the race. Lets repeat that in case you didn't think you read it correctly. The leader of the race was given a four minute penalty while leading the race.
Not once, but twice!
First up was Caroline Steffen. Given a four minute penalty for not passing a male pro triathlete within the allowed time. She clearly must be weak on the bike? Having dominated races on the bike do we really think she needs to draft behind a male that has been riding slower than her? After serving the four minute penalty she caught and re-passed the girls in just the next 40km. Hardly the mark of a weak cyclist.
The second time the female leader of the race Mary Beth Ellis had just passed Steffen to take the lead when she was penalized because she did not continue on to make the pass of the male pro who was infront of the girls.
How can this be?
Is this not the World Championship? To many, the holy grail of triathlon?
What other sport would allow such a ridiculous situation to arise?
How is it that a male professional triathlete at the world championships no less, given a five minute head start, can not only interfere with the womans race, but even be in the race to start with. Not only being unable to keep up with the men but being caught by the women when he had a head start.
Ignore the qualification process for now, that says winning an Ironman doesn't qualify you for the race, but if you do enough races, scraping home in 7th you can earn enough points to scrape in to the big one.
The question is 'why was a male pro allowed to get in the way and, lets face it, screw the womans race?'.
Why didn't the officials on the course simply tell the male pro to move out of the way, let the women through, and to not interfere with the womens race?
Being three weeks away from this years race, what has changed?
The qualification criteria remains the same. The pro women start five minutes behind the pro men, no tangible difference to last years 3 minute start differential.
Surely such an embarrassing situation can't happen two years in a row at the world championships?
Lets hope that the officials this year are better educated and are instructed to ensure that the slower male pros do not interfere with the womens race.